The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is encouraging Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to embrace digital finance in the day-to-day running of business transactions in order to increase intra-trade within the COMESA region by at least 10% annually and include marginalised communities.
The COMESA Business Council (CBC) has been conducting a pilot scheme under the CBC Digital Financial Inclusion Project for MSMEs across nine countries – Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Mauritius. The aim of the scheme is to build a business case for a Regional Common Digital Payment Policy guideline and framework that supports the development of the digital payment scheme for MSMEs in the region.
CBC Project Manager for Digital Financial Inclusion Dr Jonathan Pinifolo said: “The North-South corridor is the most extensive corridor system in the region, linking the largest number of countries in eastern and southern Africa.
“The countries we are working with in this region include Malawi and Zambia, and out of the 21 countries, they have picked nine countries in Africa based on the trade activities taking place within the various trade corridors.”
Pinifolo said the CBC had also developed the commissioning of a regional integrated digital common payment scheme incorporating commercial banks, mobile network operators, Fintechs and other institutions providing financial services.
Assistant Secretary General for Programmes at COMESA, Ambassador Dr Kipyego Cheluget, said COMESA was a strong advocate for enterprise growth and development in local and regional markets. “Africa’s economic transformation lies in the ability to increase value addition and strengthen the participation of our SMEs in national and regional supply chains” he said.
COMESA was established in 1993 and is now a free trade area of 21 member states that stretches from Tunisia to Eswatini.